Many Americans consider sports a cultural cornerstone with a uniquely enduring capacity to captivate, drive conversation and channel competitive energies into communal bonds. For Jake Abrahams ’14, a researcher at NBC Sports, sports mean all that — and a bit more. Athletics have played an integral role in Abrahams’ life; they
have shaped and guided his academic, extracurricular and vocational pursuits.
Abrahams was born in Los Angeles, Calif., where he lived for much of his life before moving to the East Coast and attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Quite fittingly, the move was largely motivated by Abrahams’ passion for sports — in particular, his passion for hockey. “When I was in L.A., hockey was not a school sport,” he said. “It was hard to get good grades and travel for hockey.”
Similarly, Abrahams made the decision to attend the College with a sport — albeit a different one — in mind. “It was a great Div. III golf school,” he said, thinking back to his choice. “Also, with the Taconic Golf Club, you can’t ask for a better set-up golf-wise.”
At the College, Abrahams was active on the sports scene, both as a competitor and as a member of various extracurricular groups. For instance, during his offseason, he worked for the Sports Information Department as a broadcaster for men’s and women’s ice hockey and won the Aaron Pinsky ’06 Broadcasting Award in 2013. “Broadcasting was a way for me to keep in touch with hockey, even though I wasn’t playing,” he said.
When it came time to figure out his plans after graduating, Abrahams, an economics major, briefly considered a career in consulting before turning his focus elsewhere. “That just didn’t seem like the right fit,” he said. “Then, I started to take a look at sports and pursuing that more seriously. I started making some connections and emailing people I had met before.”
One of Abrahams’ first contacts was Tim Layden ’78, a writer for Sports Illustrated who had taught a Winter Study course on sports writing during Abrahams’ junior year. “That course was a really good introduction to the kind of career I wanted to pursue,” Abrahams said.
Abrahams also later reached out to Sports Information Director Dick Quinn and Sam Flood ’83, an executive producer — and Abrahams’ main point of contact — at NBC Sports. “I basically just got my name out there,” Abrahams said. “After I graduated, I started to get more traction and a few months later, I was offered a job there.” For Abrahams, the decision to accept NBC’s offer was fairly easy, in large part due to his love for hockey. “NBC is the exclusive rights holder for hockey in the United States,” he said. “That was why I wanted to pursue them specifically.”
At NBC Sports, Abrahams currently works as an on-site researcher for NBC’s football and hockey programs, serving as a liaison between the production staff behind-the-scenes and the television personalities on-air.
“I’m in the studio with the broadcasters helping them with questions and storylines,” he said. “I’m also writing, fact-checking, as well as conducting and helping produce interviews. It’s very hands-on.”
The preparation work is both impressive and challenging. “Before each game, our department produces a packet of comprehensive notes,” Abrahams said. “For the NFL season opener this year, there were 40 pages of big-picture stories, specific facts and profiles.”
“There’s a lot of media coverage you need to sift through,” he said, “Tim Layden used to tell us, ‘There’s never been more sports writing, so that means there’s never been more bad sports writing.’ My job involves a lot of reading, finding the best material and being concise.”
Abrahams has used those skills for a variety of projects, but one assignment remains his favorite. “It was for Super Bowl XLIX, which was in Arizona that year,” he said. “We wanted to find a story connected to Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinal who enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and was killed in combat.” The feature focused on Ed Woodward, a recipient of Tillman’s namesake scholarship, who used the scholarship to earn a medical doctorate in honor of his late brother.
Abrahams said he is still uncertain where his career will take him next. “I don’t have a firm grasp on what I want as an ‘end goal’ yet,” he said. Unsurprisingly, however, one ambition remains fairly certain: “I know I want it to be sports-related.”